Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

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Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by Lance » Sun Sep 03, 2017 3:20 pm

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com ... US218_.jpg
Warner Classics 58692, 9 CDs

I didn't NEED it, another set of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas, but the price was right, and I do admire Kovacevich very much. However, Warner has issued the 32 plus the two sets of Bagatelles, Opp. 119 and 126, all recorded originally for EMI between 1991 and 2003. All are on nine CDs.

The box blurb goes: "'Nobody plays this music more authoritatively and eloquently,' wrote London's Sunday Times of Stephen Kovacevich in Beethoven. 'He is in his element, responding wholeheartedly to the extreme physicality that Beethoven brought to music ... but the wit and delicacy of the playing are also remarkable.' Kovacevich himself has spoken of his love for the 'fun and virtuosity' of the composer's early sonatas, while in the often challenging later works he sees a 'subtext of radiance and some sort of inherent faith in life.'"

Facsimiles of the original discs adorn the sleeves within the box.

Any comments by our Beethoven aficionados? How does Kovacevich compare to the great Schnabel, Kempff (various editions), Goode, Gulda (various editions), Backhaus, Ashkenazy, Heidsieck, Brendel (various editions), Yves Nat, Fiorentino, Arrau (early), Grinberg, Claude Frank, Nikolayeva, not to mention those larger portions of sonatas recorded by Gieseking (EMI, and live on Tahra), Gilels (DGG), and Hungerford. That's enough above for one man and his love for music. There's many other complete 32s I don't have, but are certainly worthy of consideration.

So, what's the verdict on Kovacevich's place among the pantheon of pianists in this repertoire?
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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by maestrob » Mon Sep 04, 2017 10:58 am

My favorite Beethoven 32 is still Brendel's second traversal for Phillips. He has something to say with every note, and luckily it was a gift! :D I understand why Brendel disavowed his early recordings for Vox: tempo choices are not always right, and there's a lack of depth in the playing.

My second favorite is Russell Sherman, who plumbs the depths with accuracy and exactly right tempi to make the music sing. Hard to find now, these are recordings for the ages, along with his readings of the piano concerti with Vaclav Neumann and the Czech Philharmonic.

In mono, Wilhelm Kempff's set of sonatas for DGG ranks high in my estimation.

I have the set by Arrau on my shelves, but haven't opened it so have no opinion yet.

Steven Bishop-Kovacevich is a fine artist but I've not heard his set of sonatas: your post has intrigued me, Lance, so I'll look into acquiring this new edition.

I also have Barenboim's issue for EMI (his younger interpretation). While all the notes are there, I find his playing ultimately boring. Perhaps that's why he remade them for DGG, but I don't have that set, so have no opinion.

Gieseking's set that was also gifted to me, I find cold and hard: I could barely listen to them. Again the notes are there, but there's no humanity: to my ears, it sounds like computer generated music. No thanks!

I'll stop now....... :D

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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by John F » Mon Sep 04, 2017 2:21 pm

I've some of his recordings as Stephen Bishop, mainly concertos with Colin Davis but also Beethoven Sonatas 30 and 31 as recorded in the '60s by EMI. Very lyrical playing, I like it very much. Whether he still plays that way, I've no idea; Murray Perahia's style became more assertive and virtuosic in middle age, and maybe Bishop's did too with his name change to Kovacevic, but maybe not. Whatever, like Lance I don't need another Beethoven sonata cycle, indeed I'm not buying records now but the opposite.
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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by Lance » Mon Sep 04, 2017 2:25 pm

Very nice post, Brian. Thank you. I, too, have the early Arrau set (now on Decca) but forgot to include it. I am less interested in the later version, however. With Arrau, I find I am more fascinated with his art in his early recordings for American Decca and EMI and RCA than in his work with Philips for the most part.

Your comments on Brendel are also right on. I have the Decca BIG box with all his recordings of Beethoven everything else he did, and like others, prefer the version recorded prior to his final recording. However, I have long admired his Vox recordings. Perhaps I was attracted more to the pianos he used, probably German Steinways or Boesdendorfers, maybe Bechsteina. But Brendel's SCHUBERT recordings for Vox are, far and away, his best efforts, having just come off of studies with the great Classical period teacher, Edwin Fischer, another great favourite of yours truly. The founder of this board, Ward Botsford, recorded Brendel in Europe and often spoke to me about these experiences. True, Brendel was very young at the time, but there is a freshness in his approach to much of those early recordings. Besides, I guess he wasn't paid very much in those years, but he sure worked like a horse! I was not all that enamoured with Brendel's recordings on the Vanguard label, a company with whom he was short lived. I think much had to do there with the sound of his piano and the way it was captured.
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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by arepo » Thu Sep 07, 2017 6:05 pm

Maestro..
Of the many large sets of the I have, Russell Sherman's definitely ranks very high overall. My preference has been Andras Schiff , Rudolf Serkin and Richard Goode, but the issue is so very subjective and I believe it's virtually impossible to select just one.
In my memory of superb special individual Beethoven sonatas I heard live, Richter on Op.2 in C, Emanuel Ax in Op.57 and Perahia in Op.22 stand out and Pollini's recording of the Hammerklavier is also magnificent.
Stephen Kovacevich is a brilliant artist but I haven't heard enough of his Beethoven sonatas to make a judgment.
My best regards to you and your special bride.
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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by Belle » Mon Sep 18, 2017 6:43 pm

The Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas performed by Stephen Kovacevich have just been delivered to my postbox and liberated from their packaging by my husband!! Guess what I'll be doing for the rest of the, er, day?? :D

Just when a lot of Beethoven is never enough, there's also Jan Swafford's excellent "Triumph and Anguish".

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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by Belle » Mon Sep 18, 2017 9:00 pm

Just listened to Sonata No. 26, "Les Adieux". Drama and poetry aplenty but not happy with Kovacevich's playing of Bars 166-173 in the final movement, which is choppy both in the first iteration and this repeat at the end of the sonata. You lose the sense of rhythm here when Kovacevich concentrates on the base line which overwhelms the jaunty rhythm in the treble. Disappointing when compared to this; note 15:42 and the same section played with much more bounce and clarity by Arrau. Ironic, since I feel his is a version which pulls the rhythm and pace about much more liberally throughout this movement:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlJGliWCDVc

I've been following all the Beethoven sonatas today with the score, observing dynamics etc. This gives a far more tangible sense of the challenge and achievements for musicians!!

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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by Lance » Mon Sep 18, 2017 10:24 pm

Interesting post. I suppose it is all in the mind of the interpreter, which makes all music the more interesting. I wonder how you would compare Kovacevich's to Artur Schnabel's recording from the 1930s, or those by Rubinstein, Rudolf Serkin or Wilhelm Backhaus or Wilhelm Kempff. There are so many grand recordings of this work.
Belle wrote:
Mon Sep 18, 2017 9:00 pm
Just listened to Sonata No. 26, "Les Adieux". Drama and poetry aplenty but not happy with Kovacevich's playing of Bars 166-173 in the final movement, which is choppy both in the first iteration and this repeat at the end of the sonata. You lose the sense of rhythm here when Kovacevich concentrates on the base line which overwhelms the jaunty rhythm in the treble. Disappointing when compared to this; note 15:42 and the same section played with much more bounce and clarity by Arrau. Ironic, since I feel his is a version which pulls the rhythm and pace about much more liberally throughout this movement:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlJGliWCDVc

I've been following all the Beethoven sonatas today with the score, observing dynamics etc. This gives a far more tangible sense of the challenge and achievements for musicians!!
Lance G. Hill
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______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by Belle » Wed Sep 20, 2017 4:58 pm

Yesterday I spent much of the day listening to Kovacevich playing Beethoven's "Hammerklavier", comparing it to versions I have by Richter, Pollini and Brendel. I quickly put the Richter to one side as I consider he was way past his prime when he recorded these late Beethoven sonatas (there were many slips). Pollini can be somewhat hard-driven and granitic, as is certainly the case with the first movement of Opus 106. The third and fourth movements are much more convincing from Pollini; in fact, they are my preferred. Next comes Brendel, where the clarity and poetry is much more in evidence than the somewhat rushed sections of the third movement you get from Stephen Kovacevich (too much influenced by the speedster Argerich, I shouldn't wonder!!). Overall, I preferred the Brendel. It comes down to personal preference, but there isn't one single PERFORMANCE for me - so far - which has everything I'm wanting from this sonata. I'm searching for 'the unicorn', probably!! :D

Following with the score amplifies the staggering feat of memory required for these works!! For assuredly it's not just the notes but all the dynamic and tempo markings to be negotiated.

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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by Belle » Sat Oct 07, 2017 3:23 pm

I've been up early this morning (AEDT) since 4am and listening to the Kovacevich set which arrived last week. Following with the Henle (Verlag) Urtext score. I attempted to do so yesterday afternoon but my new Densen CD player is intermittently cutting out (!) during some CDs. Naturally I had my remaining hair to pull out in the interim! Anyway, it worked fine this morning and I've been listening intensely to Op. 10 No. 3 (Sonata No. 7, composed before Beethoven was 30) and what a remarkable work this is!! Not having followed it closely with the score in such a long time, I hadn't realized how harmonically daring it is in places and it's quite a large-scale sonata really. The Largo is stunning and I must have studied it closely many years ago (not for playing) because I notice pencil marks all over the pages. Another favourite has long been Sonata No. 4, Op.7.

These really are among my bedrock desert island works, all these Beethoven piano sonatas, and I love them with a visceral passion. That discoveries can still be made is part of the continuing love affair.

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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by Belle » Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:58 pm

Kovacevich's erstwhile partner, Argerich, also makes a fine account of this Sonata Op. 10, No. 3. I'm listening to her via Bluetooth this afternoon and her rendering of the Largo is particularly poetic and powerful - and I'm not normally a fan of hers. I want to hold and keep the Largo close to my heart because this is music for the ages.

In some respects there's a lot of Mozart present in this sonata by Beethoven, particularly the ostinato/alberti bass line in the Rondo, but it's Mozart on steroids. Still plenty of turns and ornaments but he's already starting to use the trills as part of the structure/harmony- a feature generally of the much later sonatas. The thematic material in the Rondo is so very classical too in that it is in smaller fragments/building blocks allowing for Beethoven's knotty and gritty development.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEUDQIC4Gfk

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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by Marc » Sun Oct 08, 2017 4:23 am

Belle wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 4:58 pm
[...] It comes down to personal preference, but there isn't one single PERFORMANCE for me - so far - which has everything I'm wanting from this sonata. I'm searching for 'the unicorn', probably!! :D
[...]
Say no more. :mrgreen:

In general: I'm happy I bought this set for a budget price. Like many other sets, even from the 'Great', there are hits and misses, but Kovacevich certainly isn't Mr. Average.
During the last days I've also been listening to some of his earlier Philips recordings, and I think I prefer them (mostly) to the later EMI stuff, they just sound more balanced to me. The Philips sonics are superior, too. Well, my tuppence worth.

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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by Belle » Sun Oct 08, 2017 6:08 am

Your input is appreciated.

Listening to this now as I prepare for bed - Schnabel and Beethoven Sonata No. 4:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiXsgWT6DCI

At times in that first movement even Schnabel rushes sections of it!!

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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by John F » Sun Oct 08, 2017 8:03 am

Belle wrote:
Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:58 pm
In some respects there's a lot of Mozart present in this sonata by Beethoven
There's a lot of Mozart in much of early Beethoven. His quartet in A major, op. 18 no. 5, is said to be modelled deliberately on Mozart's quartet no. 18 in the same key, K. 464, though you might not realize that just from listening. Count Waldstein wrote in Beethoven's album, just before Beethoven left Bonn for Vienna to study with Haydn, that “You will receive the spirit of Mozart from the hands of Haydn.” If not actually via Haydn, Beethoven certainly did receive the spirit of Mozart, and a good deal of the technique as well.
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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by Lance » Mon Oct 09, 2017 12:52 am

I'm fascinated with your intense interest in the "correctness" of the playing when following a score, or even different scores. I think I would drive myself crazy this way (some already think I am!), but I listen to the entire interpretation as the pianist plays it given his own "authoritative" approach. It becomes very obvious to me when not far into listening to a complete work when I raise my brows about sloppy playing (which does sometimes occur), or not a very well studied performance, bad tonal properties, unwise choice of rhythms that stay consistent with the piece. Otherwise, I might not enjoy listening to much music. You being a scholar, of course, have more curiosity than the average listener. Can you elaborate somewhat on your observances of score vs. performance?
Belle wrote:
Mon Sep 18, 2017 9:00 pm
Just listened to Sonata No. 26, "Les Adieux". Drama and poetry aplenty but not happy with Kovacevich's playing of Bars 166-173 in the final movement, which is choppy both in the first iteration and this repeat at the end of the sonata. You lose the sense of rhythm here when Kovacevich concentrates on the base line which overwhelms the jaunty rhythm in the treble. Disappointing when compared to this; note 15:42 and the same section played with much more bounce and clarity by Arrau. Ironic, since I feel his is a version which pulls the rhythm and pace about much more liberally throughout this movement:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlJGliWCDVc

I've been following all the Beethoven sonatas today with the score, observing dynamics etc. This gives a far more tangible sense of the challenge and achievements for musicians!!
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by Belle » Mon Oct 09, 2017 2:22 am

Well, for a start, looking at the score helps you to listen with your eyes. And in the case of the Kovacevich I mentioned earlier there was a persistent ostinato which he seemed to concentrate on instead of the overlaid melody. I 'hear' each performance in tandem with other performers, like Pollini, who do bring out the melody or who have a different response to the poetry. Reading the score just gives you a visualization of the performance choices which are made. In the case of the Schnabel I mentioned, he seemed to run ahead in 2 or 3 bars and there was no instruction there which indicated that action. I took it as a momentary lapse in concentration.

There's NO 'correct' interpretation - god knows I cannot play these works myself - but it's interesting to read and see the different ways each musician responds to virtually the SAME set of instructions. So, that's what hearing with your eyes means. As I used to tell my English students, holding up a play..."this text has 3 dimensions and this written one cannot be taken as the last word; somebody has to interpret the written word for an audience, which is then to respond to it in a way particular to him or her". So it is with music.

In the case of the Schubert sonatas by Kempff, which I've been hearing today, I'm able to compare some of these with Richter and others will Pollini - all the while reading the score for additional engagement. So far, the Kemptff is concentrating far more on the poetry and intimacy than the virtuosity (which Brendel argues is NOT a major feature of most of the sonatas of Schubert!).

When I was in the Musikverein in 2011 a man was sitting next to me reading the complete score during a Beethoven recital. He had restricted viewing and this was one way to become more engaged with the music. I also find this is an excellent way to keep up with sight-reading in case I'm called upon to turn pages for anybody.
Yes, Lance, I know I need to get a life - but between this and our music group and my intense interest and engagement in political and wider socio-cultural debates, as well as reading about music, I find the days pass all too quickly for my liking.

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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by maestrob » Mon Oct 09, 2017 12:13 pm

The map is not the territory. What's written on the page is only the beginning. Though I am a Toscanini fan, I think that there are many ways to interpret any score by reading between the lines, and great musicians certainly know how to do so, just as great actors in a play do so.

I think we agree on this. Whether one agrees with any particular interpretation is a matter of personal taste, of course. What moves me in music is a great interpretation that draws on the score as written as the beginning, much as the poetic discipline of Shakespeare's Sonnets.

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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by barney » Mon Oct 09, 2017 5:00 pm

This is true, Belle. I sometimes use a score, and did so the other day listening to Zimerman's new Schubert CD, the last sonata in B flat, D960. It did heighten my appreciation of his artistry.
But if there are no correct interpretations, in the sense of a single definitive interpretation, there are certainly wrong interpretations. Sometimes Glenn Gould is so wilful and idiosyncratic is his interpretation (say some Beethoven sonatas) that he could merit that term. Of course, wilful and idiosyncratic are better and more useful descriptions than wrong, which I could not imagine actually using. And Gould remains interesting even there, highlighting different voices.

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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by John F » Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:34 pm

I wouldn't use the words right and wrong, with their absolute and perhaps even moral implications. As maestrob says, the score does not define precisely how a piece is to be played, far from it, so it's hard to see how one way of playing it could be described as right and another as wrong.

maestrob mentioned Toscanini, who for generations was believed by many to be the model of scrupulous fidelity to the score. (We know that wasn't always so, but anyway.) But recently I came across a Toscanini recording which, though doubtless note-perfect, seems to me not wrong but perhaps wrong-headed. It's Dukas's "Sorcerer's Apprentice," whch he conducted often throughout his career. He recorded it twice, first with the New York Philharmonic in 1929, then with the NBC Symphony in 1950. The first takes just under 9 minutes and is rushed and quite lacking in atmosphere. The second, about 10:30, is still pretty brisk but not excessively so; still, it's not very atmospheric, pictorial, or humorous.

A recording that is all of these - the one I grew up with - is Stokowski's 1937 Victor recording with the Philadelphia Orchestra (not the Fantasia soundtrack recording, despite the picture on YouTube). He takes about 10 minutes. Is Toscanini wrong and Stokowski right? I wouldn't say so, but I would say that Stokowski is better. :)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFhA23lxFpI
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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by Marc » Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:23 am

Of course there's also the question: how reliable or truthful is a score? Even when it's a so-called Urtext?

Cases where the composer had bad penmanship (for example, Beethoven) or revised the work after publication, [...] create difficulties. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urtext_edition].

And what could the difference be, for instance, between Adagio, molto semplice e cantabile (Beethoven autograph) and Adagio molto, semplice e cantabile (Edition Peters, 'Urtext') i.c. the Arietta of opus 111?

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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by Belle » Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:36 am

This is perfectly true and you'll hear musicologists talk about the problem of scores and specific editions and inconsistencies. This is a critical issue with respect to baroque music and prior periods where extant scores are in fragments and require reconstruction on the advice and involvement of specialist musicologists.

A musician will read a score and then also be influenced by the performance history and tradition of the work he/she is playing!! That may be through modern recordings, master classes or a teacher who has a distant, generational connection back to the composer.

Here's an excellent discussion of some of the issues with regard to piano music NOTATION and performance practice. Bilson talks about Beethoven sonatas from circa 47 minutes (in fact, you could watch it from there!) and it's very relevant to some of the comments made here on this thread and a previous one where 'portamento' was discussed (then he moves on to Prokofiev, Bartok and others) - watch out for the dreaded word "right"!!! Bilson discusses Beethoven Op. 10, No 3, which I alluded to earlier with regard to the stunning Largo e mesto:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVGN_YAX03A

Can I add that I didn't know Op. 10 No. 3 very well at all until I got the complete boxed set of Beethoven from Kovacevich. When I sat down to listen carefully, with score in front of me, it was then I realized the tectonic shift Beethoven achieved with the Largo e Mesto from his piano sonatas up to that point. The Sonata no. 4 is charming but Op 10, No. 3 is of a different order of magnitude, anticipating as it does the later and very great final 4 or 5 sonatas. In short, the score enabled me to see the scope of Beethoven's achievement in a way that would have taken longer without it.

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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by maestrob » Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:54 am

I must confess here that I do not own scores of the Beethoven Sonatas: in fact, my library almost exclusively consists of opera and symphonic scores. So, I defer to the pianists on this board when it comes to judging how faithful any individual performer is to the score in this repertoire, but still I know what I like when I hear it, and in the Beethoven 32 it's Brendel's second traversal for Phillips, Russell Sherman, and Claudio Arrau's set now issued on Decca CDs. I've heard Barenboim's 2 sets (EMI & DGG) and found them accurate but ultimately boring, Gieseking, who was cold as ice (sounded like computer generated music), Brendel's youthful set for Vox (he's just not ready yet), and Paul Lewis, who also was decidedly not yet ready. I've also heard the Kempff mono set for DGG, which I admired. Other individual interpretations abound in my collection, including Richter, Backhaus, and others, all mainly excellent.

Stephen Kovacevich tempts me, but I must go through the Arrau collection again and the 1930's Kempff set of late sonatas before I can get to it. Be assured I shall, after this discussion! :D

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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by John F » Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:00 pm

And then there's Artur Schnabel.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-xVM7vr77s
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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by Lance » Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:11 pm

We share many of the same thoughts, Brian! My fav of Kempff, too, is the early mono set.
maestrob wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:54 am
I must confess here that I do not own scores of the Beethoven Sonatas: in fact, my library almost exclusively consists of opera and symphonic scores. So, I defer to the pianists on this board when it comes to judging how faithful any individual performer is to the score in this repertoire, but still I know what I like when I hear it, and in the Beethoven 32 it's Brendel's second traversal for Phillips, Russell Sherman, and Claudio Arrau's set now issued on Decca CDs. I've heard Barenboim's 2 sets (EMI & DGG) and found them accurate but ultimately boring, Gieseking, who was cold as ice (sounded like computer generated music), Brendel's youthful set for Vox (he's just not ready yet), and Paul Lewis, who also was decidedly not yet ready. I've also heard the Kempff mono set for DGG, which I admired. Other individual interpretations abound in my collection, including Richter, Backhaus, and others, all mainly excellent.

Stephen Kovacevich tempts me, but I must go through the Arrau collection again and the 1930's Kempff set of late sonatas before I can get to it. Be assured I shall, after this discussion! :D
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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by Lance » Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:12 pm

Yes, and if I had to go to a that island away from everything/everybody, and had to select just one set (unfortunately), it would be the Artur Schnabel edition.
John F wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:00 pm
And then there's Artur Schnabel.
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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by maestrob » Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:30 pm

Yes, indeed! .....and then there's Annie Fischer, some of which I've heard, but do not own.....

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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by Lance » Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:22 pm

Another of my favourites! I have far too many. This is what happens what you become interested in the plethora of performing artists. It can become crazy! It took me awhile to decide to acquire Annie Fischer's complete Hungaroton set, and I understand she did NOT give her approval of this entire set until after she passed on. I could have my facts wrong on this, however, she was a consummate artist and I enjoyed her performances very much.
maestrob wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:30 pm
Yes, indeed! .....and then there's Annie Fischer, some of which I've heard, but do not own.....
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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barney
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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by barney » Tue Oct 10, 2017 4:57 pm

Lance wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:22 pm
Another of my favourites! I have far too many. This is what happens what you become interested in the plethora of performing artists. It can become crazy! It took me awhile to decide to acquire Annie Fischer's complete Hungaroton set, and I understand she did NOT give her approval of this entire set until after she passed on. I could have my facts wrong on this, however, she was a consummate artist and I enjoyed her performances very much.
maestrob wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:30 pm
Yes, indeed! .....and then there's Annie Fischer, some of which I've heard, but do not own.....
Nowthere's an enticing tidbit, Lance. How did she give her approval after she passed on. Via a medium?
I like all the pianists cited so far. To them I would add Gilels (not quite complete, but nearly). What do people think of Backhaus?

John F
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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by John F » Tue Oct 10, 2017 5:24 pm

In his earlier years, Backhaus was quite a virtuoso. He recorded Chopin's etudes op 10 and 25 and made what I think is still the best recording of Schumann's Fantasia in C.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vqwEiiJHVU


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEJ30hiPPE8

The sound of this transfer is rather muffled; the original is better.

But his postwar Decca/London recordings, what I've heard of his Beethoven sonata cycles, leave me cold. A certain rigidity has come into his playing that wasn't there before. Too bad.
John Francis

maestrob
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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by maestrob » Wed Oct 11, 2017 11:53 am

Yes, JohnF, I agree with your evaluation of Backhaus. I have a live recital disc where his playing of the Beethoven Op. 111 is totally overwhelming, but that's about all I'm interested in.

Belle
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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by Belle » Wed Oct 11, 2017 6:02 pm

I listened to the Backhaus "Fantasie" Op.17 by Schumann. It's a stunning performance, I agree. All those record changes must have driven music-lovers mad!! I'm only sorry we don't have a performance of it by Clara Schumann, but that wasn't to be. The irony today is that we have extraordinary means of conveying recorded sound and endlessly shrill human beings demanding to be heard, mostly 'signifying nothing'!!

John F
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Re: Beethoven's 32: Stephen Kovacevich

Post by John F » Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:48 am

EMI published an excellent transfer of the Fantasia in which you can't hear the side breaks, but the YouTube uploader chose to use the original 78s, or maybe that's all he had.
John Francis

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